We feel good when we’re happy and carefree. Likewise, we feel awful when we’re sad, depressed, or angry. Is that just a coincidence, or could our bodies be telling us something? According to a study published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, our emotions do influence our health. But can being happy help reduce your risk of getting diseases associated with the heart?

To find out whether staying positive could indeed keep the heart healthy, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health examined 200 studies published in scientific databases PubMed and PsycINFO. They discovered that optimism, life satisfaction, and happiness were most associated with patients who were the least likely to develop cardiovascular diseases. The most optimistic participants had a 50-percent lower risk of developing a cardiovascular disease compared to those who were pessimistic.

 "Even if a person is overweight, smokes a lot, and has high cholesterol, they can still benefit from positive emotions. It is something unique about well-being itself," says Julia Boehm, one of the study authors.

How the whole happiness philosophy works is still a little unclear, but researchers speculate that happy people may be more likely to treat their bodies better. "We found that if you have a positive disposition you’re more likely to exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep at night," says Boehm. "This can have positive biological effects in terms of inflammation, cholesterol, blood pressure, and lipids."

 

(Photo by Rob Lambert via Flickr Creative Commons)

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